What makes anger management a challenge for you?
My trigger is Extra Work. Anything that gives me one more scrap of work to do (or even supervise) makes my blood boil. These are some of my thoughts that come along with spilled milk:
I just went to the store for more milk! This kid doesn’t care that I took the time to get what he wants.
A gallon of milk costs more than a gallon of gas! This kid is so ungrateful and entitled.
Now the floor is going to be sticky! Nobody else notices or cares that the house can’t stay clean.
Do I use a cloth towel or paper towel to clean this? Either way, it’s a waste of resources.
How well will this get cleaned by the child? I’ll have to hover to be sure the job is done right, so I might as well do it myself.
I had a million things to do today before adding spilled milk to the list! I’m practically a slave to these kids. They don’t love me; they just take me for granted.
Of course, the issue could be anything (the kids get quite inventive in that department), but the result is the same: More work for me.
Honestly, if it was just extra work, I wouldn’t get so angry.
My problem is the string of negative, false, and/or unrealistic “self-talk” that accompanies my thoughts. In other words, the italicized thoughts above. This self-talk is what hammers my Emotions Button, making me need anger management in the first place. Nothing puts up your defenses like feeling attacked or taken advantage of. Righteous anger, gives me the ganas to fight for what is right and good. Defensive anger blinds me to what is right and good; it causes me to lash out indiscriminately.
If I place more value on a clean house, then the negative self-talk my mind hears can pull the roof down on all our heads. If I take a breath and force myself to change my perspective (i.e. realize that a clean house isn’t more valuable than the grace of overlooking simple mistakes), then life goes on.
Determining Defensive Anger
The only thing I could do (when anger management became a concern for me) was think about why I blew my top. This occurred after the fact, of course. Eventually, I realized that my own thoughts were turning a simple situation into a personal hell. My kid didn’t hate me or make a mess to torment me; he was just a kid being a kid.
I thought: Mess = Unloved or If they loved me, they wouldn’t make such a mess.
Sounds silly, right? It doesn’t make logical sense to think this way, but those sub-conscious thoughts pressed my Emotions Button relentlessly. The reality is, kids love their parents, no matter how bad or good their parents actually are, and they don’t show love by being organized and clean. Judging how much I’m loved by the state of my floors is just as dependable as… well, determining if my middle-school crush loved me by using the “He Loves Me; He Loves Me Not” flower.
If my angry thoughts don’t make actual-logical-practical sense, then I know I am experiencing Defensive Anger. Turns out, we all have these Belief Sets that don’t make logical sense. For example, have you ever had this thought: I couldn’t control my temper; I’m an awful mother! Losing your temper doesn’t make you an awful mother; it makes you human. Humans can learn from their mistakes.
Once I identified some of my illogical (or distorted) beliefs, I became better and faster at recognizing them. Sometimes, I even recognize them before I pull the roof down.
Anger Prevention is better than Anger Management…
Changing your mindset or the perception of your world is one of those “easier said than done” things. Taking a second to breathe and asking myself, “What am I really upset about?” does wonders for my blood pressure. Unfortunately, I don’t always take that precious second, and that leads to all sorts of negative emotions that rage inside until I manage to wrestle a hold over them. Over all, I like my kids more when I can prevent my illogical beliefs from getting me angry. I like that I’m able to discipline effectively when I have myself under control. For that reason alone, when I prevent myself from getting angry, I like myself a lot more.